PA House Passes Bill To Block RGGI Regulation, Senate Republicans File Lawsuit

On March 30, the House voted 126 to 72 to pass House Bill 637 (Struzzi-R-Indiana) designed to block the final DEP regulation establishing a Carbon Pollution Reduction Program covering power plants that’s consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

            The vote total is not enough to override a Governor’s veto, which happened to a similar bill in 2020.  Read more here.

            This House Bill, however, is different from the 2020 legislation because House Republicans amended it to include a one-time allocation from federal American Rescue Plan funding–

— $125 million for research, development, construction or site development of carbon dioxide and methane reduction technologies, including carbon capture, micro-grid nuclear power plants, sequestration and hydrogen fuel projects.   At least $12.5 million is to be used for methane abatement projects from plugging abandoned gas wells.

— $62.5 million for sewer and water infrastructure and stormwater mitigation, including riparian planting for carbon dioxide reduction, stream buffering and streambank restoration.

— $62.5 million for assisting workers and communities impacted by electric generation or manufacturing plant closures, including training projects, extended unemployment benefits and investments in projects to redevelop the closed plant sites.

The new language is an attempt to attract some Democrats to vote for the bill, but the vote on House Bill 2025 in 2020 was about the same– 130 to 71.

The House chose not to move a companion bill they also had on the Calendar– Senate Bill 119 (Pittman-R- Indiana), but which does not include the one-time funding. 

The bill was reported out of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and then referred to House Appropriations without changes.  Read more here.

Senate Republican Lawsuit

            On March 29, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Senate Republicans filed a petition with Commonwealth Court asking for an injunction to block publication of the regulations in the PA Bulletin so they would not go into effect.  Read more here.

On February 3, the Associated Press reported the Department of Environmental Protection filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court to compel the publication of the final regulations in the PA Bulletin so they would become effective.  Read more here.

            This lawsuit is still pending.

            Veto Override

            There has not yet been an attempt to override Gov. Wolf’s January 10 veto of Senate Concurrent Regulatory Review Resolution 1 passed by the Senate and House that would have blocked publication of the final regulations under the Regulatory Review Act.  Read more here.

One of the stated reasons Gov. Wolf vetoed the resolution was that the House did not take action on the original measure within the deadlines established by the Regulatory Review Act, so that will be a point of dispute if this action is taken to court..

            The resolution has been Tabled in the Senate and House since January 18. 

A veto override attempt must be made in the Senate by no later than April 5, according to provisions in the Regulatory Review Act. The Senate is scheduled to be in session the week of April 4.

If successful in the Senate– which it will probably be– the veto attempt then moves to the House which has interpreted the law to mean it has 10 legislative days or 30 calendar days to act, whichever is longer– although the deadlines may be in dispute.

A veto override is thought to be less likely in the House.

Senate Joint Hearing

On March 29, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy and Community, Economic and Recreation Development Committees heard very familiar and often repeated pro/con comments on the economic and environmental impacts of the final Carbon Pollution Reduction regulation.  Read more here.

TAP HERE for all articles in April 4 EXPRESS Update